Okay, okay, no more poetry. Sheesh, you can’t blame a guy for trying to add a little culture, but that’s not what people want—the non-readers have spoken. Well, to begin with there are a lot of “Thank God” phrases in what happened over the last two days. Eight or nine years ago, a good friend in Boston gave us a brand new generator that served us well with hardly a hiccup—until Friday afternoon late. That was when it exploded and blew engine parts into the mission. Luckily (Thank God), no one was injured as the kids had already gone home. It seems that a security guard had trouble getting it started one night and disabled the device that keeps it from starting or stops it from running if the oil level gets too low. None of us noticed until it ran low on oil Friday afternoon and blew itself to bits. Because of the drought we are experiencing, we are having more and more power outages and need the generator more than ever. Thank God it was on a Friday afternoon, so we could go to Mwanza on Saturday to buy a new one. Thank God we had friends who would loan us the money because a new one costs $3,000, and we didn’t have that money. We are confident that we can raise it from the One Book Foundation and other sources but that takes time and the power outages are here and now (there was one while we were gone and expecting an all-day outage today). I had to go because of my personal relationship with the man who sells generators in Mwanza which just made the second time in over a year that I’ve left the safety of the house and the nearness of a western toilet (won’t go into why that’s important here). We did take a red bucket, just in case, but Thank God we didn’t need it. I have an Indian friend (from India) in Mwanza who runs the store where we bought the one that had lasted so many years. He has sold us many of the things that make our life here bearable, but he is also a friend and has brought his family here to Bunda to visit us. He guarantees his products for me (very rare in a third world country), but even he can’t make a guarantee last for eight or nine years, especially with sabotage involved. Thank God, he had a new one in stock that was the exact match of the one that exploded. It’s a newer version with a little more power and a bigger gas tank but still has battery start and when the generator is running, it charges the battery which is sweet. Of course, it was at the bottom of a stack of generators in the corner of his store, so it took over an hour to get it out and into our car. He gave me a break on the price, so we paid exactly what we had paid all those years ago for the old one. While it does come with battery start, it doesn’t come with the car battery it needs. Thank God (are you noticing how many “Thank God”s are showing up?) we were able to get back to Bunda by three in the afternoon, so we could buy a battery, assemble the battery holder, buy the oil, and buy the petrol (gasoline) to fill it and to buy enough to have on hand for a day-long power outage expected today. Thank God Shaban had the tools and the expertise to get it all hooked up with new wires to the isolation switch and by six last night, it was up and operating and so much quieter than the last one. Shaban stayed late so he could teach the security guard coming on shift how to operate it (Shaban doesn’t even work on Saturday’s, but he has never let us down when we needed him).
The way it works here (nothing is automatic like in the States), when the power goes out, John has set up a beeping alarm to alert whoever is on duty to switch over to the generator. First, you have to move the isolation switch to neutral so we are disconnected from the national power grid. Then, you have to start the generator (just the turn of a key—there is a pull-start option if that fails), and once the generator is running, you then go back to the isolation switch and pull it into the generator position. When the national power comes back, you do everything in reverse. John has got all our security lights on solar power, so they never go off. He also hooked up our electronic things inside the house to solar as well, so the computers and things still work and don’t have to be rebooted every time the power fails (which is often).
We are expecting more and longer power outages because of the drought but Thank God for friends loaning us the money, for my friend’s store being open, for Shaban’s driving and mechanical expertise, for John’s assistance, and for getting everything hooked up and operating before the day-long power outage we expect today. See, if the generator had exploded on Saturday afternoon, it would have been Monday before we could have done anything which would have meant two days without power and the loss of all our food in the refrigerator and freezer just for starters. No one was hurt, we were able to get everything fixed in the space of about twelve hours, and we now have an even better generator (has a Honda engine) with a bigger gas tank so it can run longer. See why there were so many “Thank God” phrases in the blog today? Now, we just have to raise the money to repay our friends, but they’re giving us several months, so I’m confident that will be another Thank God. You just don’t really appreciate what you’ve got until you lose it—and you can take that to the bank.